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Is it all right to remove three week old kittens from mom?

1806 Views 21 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Ioana
I am referring to the few kitty litters ( I have found 4 originally but after a while the mommas moved them and I can find only two) accross this property. I guess they are all around 3 weeks old since they walk around without wobbling too much. There is a litter very close to the house and I can see they are even following their mom to the food bowl (which is half a meter more or less away) trying to lap.
The ones that are futher away cannot do that because they are either in a trunk of a tree or a very tight enclosure but I saw them moving some as well.
When I found Frosty he was probably the same age weighing less than 11 oz. I gave him KMR formula according to the doctor's suggestions and he did great. The difference would be that Frosty was dewormed while with all these kitties I cannot afford the process.
My intentions are to keep them in a large cage and feed them with the medicine dropper the KMR and then gradually switch to dry food until they will be old enough to be adopted.
I don't want to risk and not be able to find them any more because they will copy their mom's behaviour and run away from me or won't make it on their own.
So - is it too early to go ahead and remove them? Or they still get vital nutrition from their mom's milk I can't provide and I should delay?
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Ioana, as long as you handle the kittens as often as possible when mother is away, they will become socialized. They really do need to learn a lot from mother. Make sure you handle them when they're young. Even a two week old kitten will hiss at you out of fear. Brave little sweeties. The only baby animal that will make a stand like that against such huge monsters as we must appear to them! :)
I know I told you this before, but when I was raising the Siamese kittens, I saw my son's neutered, crabby tom cat coming into the family room. One of the kittens did not hide fast enough. He stood on the rug with his fur sticking out, hissing at mean old Tigger. My eyes were on Tigger for a moment, and he backed up slowly, then turned tail, and ran out of the room! I looked back at the kitten, and right above him was MOTHER CAT (Precious) looking very menacing. It was just like the scene from the movie, The Bear. I'm sure that baby thought he frightened Tigger away, and I was not about to tell him anything different! :D I smile every time I think of it!
A little bit of love and a tasty treat speak volumes, Ioana. I'm sure you'll attract them soon. Open a can of food and sit about twenty feet away, then 18, 17, 15, etc. I know you can do it! :)
My original post:
Ioana, as long as you handle the kittens as often as possible when mother is away, they will become socialized. They really do need to learn a lot from mother

Ioana, you know I really admire, you, but I thought you were going to socialize the kittens, not take them away. :( In my opinion and the opinion of experts, kittens should be with mother for at least 12 weeks. This is the age responsible breeders and cat associations recommend. You could socialize them without depriving them of their mother's attention. I would give them back-for their own good, but keep them socialized. I hope this doesn't hurt your feelings. That's not my intent. I see kittens advertised at 6-8 weeks old, because the general public thinks that's about the right age. I want those who read this forum to know that 12 weeks with mother is needed. I hope mother will take them back. Put them in their old nesting place. They'll cry for mother and pick up the right scent, I hope. I'm sorry to disagree, dear friend.
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He only feeds the cats sometimes and never takes them to a vet or trys to love them. They all run free and have kittens over and over. Resulting in feral kittens.

That is the opposite of my recommendations. However, I can only suggest. There is a well known expert on feral cats that does exactly what I recommended. She is, however, on a rival site, so I cannot refer you to my proof. It's a matter of extreme patience, and not every feral cat will become an inside cat, but the kittens CAN be socialized, and the feral mother can have enough trust to give birth to the kittens in a shelter the trusted person prepares. However, this takes time and extreme patience also. My information comes from experts. I would not make this point without researching it first, or having contact with a primary source. The people I know who foster very young kittens do it when mother has died or abandoned the kittens.

I know your intentions are good, and you want only the best for these kittens. My first recommendation would be to trap and neuter the female. However, if that's not possible, it is possible to develop enough trust in the mother cat to have her come for food and shelter. The time that would take, although considerable, would save weeks of hand feeding, which is a poor second choice to a mother's care.
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Lilly, I know there is a whole colony of feral cats in your neighborhood. You can't possibly pay for their care personally. You definitely need community support.
I am a little disappointed that instead of advice I get mainly critics after having explained that I am only trying to help these kitties to survive
I'm so sorry you feel that way, Ioana. I hold you in great esteem. I don't see any unkind criticism. You asked for advice, and I gave you my opinion, which was not in agreement with you, and Lilly gave you encouragement. I try to be polite with everyone, and to be honest, my heart was breaking. I cannot say one thing and think another. That's hypocrisy. Perhaps I should not have answered your post.

It takes a very long time to gain a feral's trust, but it is not as difficult as caring for that many kittens. I am not unsympathetic to your cause. I know your heart is in the right place. The only other person who might have given you advice was probably Gracie's mom, who has taken care of ferals, I believe.
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